Louisville’s Farm to Table organization is working with the University of Louisville help the university source more of its food locally.
Sarah Fritschner, who leads Farm to Table, has been instrumental in streamlining communication between food service providers, major distributors, and local vendors. Recently, the university hosted a catering fair to introduce local producers and larger distributors.
Fritschner found that food service provider Sodexo, which holds a contract with U of L, was also under contract with Sysco. So she worked with Sysco, the world’s largest broad line food distributor, to start carrying locally-sourced products at U of L.
“There’s more available than you think there is,” she said. “It’s not about the farmer in the pickup truck. You don’t have to find a friend of a friend who knows somebody with chickens to get fresh eggs. The systems are growing.”
The university officials responsible for catering orders were present at the fair, as were eight local caterers. Attendees had an opportunity to sample locally sourced food and preview menus from caterers like Sodexo, Center Plate, and the City Café.
“What we were trying to do is introduce caterers who have catered for U of L in the past to come in and see that it’s not about necessarily dealing just with farmers, that they have access to local food — that they don’t have to know somebody who knows somebody,” said Fritschner, a former Courier-Journal food editor. “They can just call up their Sysco rep and go ‘okay, what do you have that’s local?’”
Metro Government created Fritschner’s position with a portion of the funds awarded to Kentucky from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
Under the agreement, Kentucky sets aside part of the funds it receives from cigarette manufacturers each year for assisting farmers who wish to transition from tobacco to other crops.